In these global immigration updates, we provide brief updates on key changes to immigration rules in global jurisdictions. Please note that all immigration rules are subject to change and whilst correct at the time of publication, they should not be relied upon as legal advice or accuracy at a later date. 

Asia Pacific

AUSTRALIA - TEMPORARY SKILLS SHORTAGE VISA TO REPLACE SUBCLASS 457 VISA

The Australian government has announced that the Temporary Work (skilled) visa (Subclass 457) will be abolished. The 457 visa programme will be replaced with a new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa. The TSS visa is expected to be implemented by March 2018.

The following are likely to be affected by this change: 

Applicants who have recently lodged a 457 visa which is currently pending Applicants who currently hold a 457 visa will continue under its current conditions Applicants who have been granted a 457 visa on or after 19/04/2017 may face a limited two year validity period

TSS Visas  The new system will subject applicants to stricter requirements. These include:

  • 2 years previous work experience
  • Compulsory labour market testing 
  • Police clearance certificates as a mandatory requirement

Future plans for different TSS visas include:

1. Short term 2 year visa - this will include a reduced list of occupations but will not lead to permanent residency; and 2. Medium term 4 year visa – intended for highly skilled workers or applicants applying for strategic jobs with tighter restrictions and a narrow occupation list.  This visa will allow for visa renewal and permanent residency after 3 years, which may be extended from 2 to 3 years. 

Europe

SWEDEN - WORK AND RESIDENCE PERMIT PROCESSING TIMES REDUCED

A new process has been implemented in Sweden for companies registered with the Fast Track Certificate to improve processing times for Work and Residence Permit applications submitted after 1 May 2017.  After reported delays in processing in April 2017, initial Work and Residence Permit applications will now be processed within 10 business days, while renewal applications will be processed within 20 business days.

The Swedish Migration Agency has advised that in order to qualify for the shortened processing times,  applications must be complete and meet all of the immigration requirements as well as those set out by trade unions.

Applications submitted before 1 May 2017 may be subject to the extended processing time of 1-2 months for an initial work permit application and up to 7 months for a renewal application.

SLOVAKIA - ICT DIRECTIVE IMPLEMENTED AND KEY FEATURES OF ICT PERMIT

Slovakia has implemented the EU ICT directive (Directive 2014/66/EU) which allows a standardised work and residence permit for foreign nationals (non-EU) who are managers, specialists or trainees and seconded from non-EU employers to a Slovakian company in the same company group.

This follows implementation of the directive in countries such as Italy, Spain and Bulgaria.  The EU ICT permit allows for the following:

  • Specialists and managers that are Non-EU nationals can apply for an ICT work and residence permit, valid for up to 3 years
  • Non-EU trainees can apply for the ICT permit for a duration of up to 1 year
  • Those issued with this ICT visa in Slovakia will be able to work in another EU member state for a company within the same group for up to 90 days in a 180 day period. They will not be required to get a separate permit for that country. 
  • The same applies for ICT permits issued in another EU member state – they will be allowed to work in Slovakia for up to 90 days without the need for a separate visa. 

UKRAINE – EUROPEAN COUNCIL ADOPTS SCHENGEN VISA WAIVER FOR UKRAINIAN NATIONALS

The European Council has approved a proposal for Ukrainian nationals to travel to the Schengen Area without the need for a visa in advance. Ukrainians who hold a biometric passport now have the right to enter the EU without a visa for 90 days in a 180 day period.  Allowable activities in these visa free zones include:

  • Tourism;
  • Business visits (meetings and general discussions, attending seminars); and
  • Family purposes

Individuals travelling in the Schengen Area cannot do so for the intention of work or study.

North America

US/SCHENGEN – DECISION MADE NOT TO SUSPEND VISA WAIVER FOR US CITIZENS

The European Commission has announced that it will not suspend the visa waiver programme for US citizens.  The Commission’s decision was that this would be counterproductive after taking into consideration the US’ commitment to admit various European nationals into the country once they satisfy the requirements laid out by US legislation. These countries include:  

  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Poland 
  • Bulgaria 
  • Romania 

In order to be included in the Visa Waiver Programme, one of the requirements is that the country must have a US visa refusal rate of less than 3%.  Since the above countries have a refusal rate of higher than 3%, the US has therefore not included them in the Visa Waiver Programme. However, the US has confirmed that it remains committed to admit these countries into the US Visa Waiver Programme once the legislative requirements are met.

Asia/Middle East/North Africa

IMMIGRATION PROCESSING DELAYS AND OFFICE CLOSURES DURING MONTH OF RAMADAN.

Ramadan is expected to begin on or around 26 May and end on 30 June.  Processing times are expected to slow down in countries with a majority Muslim population, due to limited working hours being implemented during this period.  In addition, businesses and government offices will be closed for for the Eid holiday at the end of Ramadan.  Further delays are also expected immediately after Ramadan with government offices dealing with the backlog of application being processed. 

Turkey/Malaysia/Indonesia/Algeria

 Country/ region specific delays  during Ramadan include: 

  • Turkey – Government office will close on June 26th and 27th. 
  • Malaysia – Government offices will be closed June 26th and 27th – expect delays of up to 3 weeks after Ramadan.
  • Indonesia – Most government offices will reduce their business days by 1 or 2 hours throughout Ramadan.
  • Algeria – Public offices are expected to open at 10am and close at 3pm.